Why Steelers’ George Pickens could be NFL’s best rookie WR

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie second-round receiver George Pickens is already turning heads at training camp and making a name for himself ahead of his first NFL season.

Pickens — the No. 52 overall pick in this year’s draft — has been up to his old college tricks in camp, making his fair share of jaw-dropping plays, including several circus catches during routine drills that have made their rounds on social media.

Steelers star receiver Chase Claypool, who is entering his third year in the NFL, recently said he believes “it’s pretty clear” that the 21-year-old Pickens will “be the best rookie receiver” in the league. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who might start for the Steelers to begin the season, is also impressed with the first-year wideout.

“George is super talented,” Trubisky told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He just has to keep detailing the offense. He’s getting it down. He’s learning. He’s asking a lot of questions, which is awesome, but he’s out there making plays.

“I’m getting to the point where I really trust him throwing him the ball. He’s made some great grabs. He’s going to be a great player. He just has to keep working.”

Pickens has worked his way back from an ACL injury that claimed most of his 2021 season. The Georgia product appeared in only four games last year, including the national championship win over Alabama, where his 52-yard diving grab led to the Bulldogs’ first points of the game.

A freshman All-SEC selection in 2019, Pickens collected 90 catches, 1,347 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns across three seasons.

“He’s gonna make some crazy plays this year,” Calvin Austin III, a fellow Steelers rookie wideout, said of Pickens. “I mean some crazy plays.”

Will Pickens be the last receiving gem unearthed by recently retired general manager Kevin Colbert? 

Time, and perhaps more catches of this nature, will tell.

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